Archive for March, 2012

Rules of the Pavement

  1. People with umbrellas the size of houses (especially those that waver at eye level and might take out an eye or two), have right of way.
  2. People who stare pointedly at you and do not move to the side even within one meter of approaching you, have right of way.
  3. People in trench coats who speak to themselves and laugh at jokes no one else can hear, have right of way.
  4. Cyclists can be shoved off the pavement (unless they are children – that’s just mean). Please note, this particular rule is not endorsed by any law enforcement body and although Highway Code rule 64 states “You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement”, follow at your own risk. Continue reading

The Lesser Evil

As I stood at the platform, trying (for the umpteenth time) not to curse the Hammersmith line for running a ridiculously spaced out schedule at rush hour, an announcer informed us that some other line was experiencing severe delays because – wait for it – cables had been stolen off the tracks! My first thought was ‘At least it’s not the usual body on the track excuse’, but then I felt bad because a body on the track clearly means someone was dead or very badly injured. My second thought was ‘Oh, British thieves will steal anything!’, for which I felt incredibly guilty again but at least I could live with that thought. This got me thinking about the brain’s capacity to process bad news depending on how much we choose to accept different degrees of severity.

Apparently there is a “lesser of two evils principle” which is used in politics when a decision has to be made between two bad choices. Continue reading

Short Story 17: Beginnings

[One from the archives a.k.a. my old USB sticks. Finding a host of short stories which I forgot all about, so I will be sharing them here over the next few months – after some much needed editing, of course. Most of them were written as part of a writing course I signed up to years ago so they were based on themes which I can’t remember at the moment. Hope you enjoy them.]

‘Are you alright?’

Angie looked up from her recently organised desk and into a freckled smiling face. She couldn’t remember the girl’s name but she smiled back. ‘I’m just a bit tired,’ she answered slowly.

‘You know you don’t have to do so much work today since it’s your first day,’ the nameless girl carried on in a chitchat tone. ‘No one will notice anything you do for about a week or if you’re lucky even longer than that.’

For the second time, Angie smiled politely. She wasn’t sure how to deal with the friendly girl who didn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact, the girl had positioned herself firmly at the edge of her desk, nearly knocking over the jar of pencils close by. Nameless girl grinned and shook her head.

‘You don’t remember my name, do you? Darren over there introduced us about an hour ago.’ She made a gesture towards the only other person in the room, a short balding man with crooked teeth who had given Angie the grand tour of her new office building.

Now Angie had to make an effort to remember her name. She already felt slightly embarrassed that she had been caught out and didn’t want to give the impression that she didn’t care enough to remember names. She ran her stubby fingers through her thick greying locks in an attempt to recall the long list of names that had been thrown at her earlier on.

‘Rachel?’ she blurted out more as a question than a certainty.

Nameless girl smiled. ‘So you remember. For a minute there I thought you hadn’t the faintest clue who I was.’ Continue reading

Bandwagon Jumping

So, I have decided to be completely unoriginal and I’m jumping on the “What-I-Do/What-People-Think-I-Do” bandwagon. I couldn’t help myself. Some of the posters I’ve seen have been nothing short of genius, some have been really silly but Continue reading

What The Sequel Told Me

  1. Romance is superficial and in Part 2/Book 2 (or 3 or 4 even), the protagonist will move on from that love interest we spent an hour and a half or 400 pages rooting for.
  2. Villains can (and will) survive falls from great heights or explosions. Continue reading

The Floundering No

Dear panel of judges, I am here to propose the motion that the paradoxical Happy Pessimist exists. Why? Because I’m pretty certain I’m one and if I exist…need I say more? You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about this at all. Someone I’ve known for a few years recently told me that I can be a bit difficult and tend to say no a lot and therefore I must be unhappy. Difficult, check. Say no a lot, check. Unhappy, not at all! I’ve always felt the need to stop and assess everything put to me before saying yes and I do not apologise for this as I feel my success in life is a testament to the decisions I have made in my “pessimistic” frame of mind. But I thought it was a huge leap to conclude that I must be unhappy because I say no or do not agree with everything that everyone proposes all the time. I have always been an extremely cheery person (I giggle far too much for an adult) and don’t need too much to make me happy (good health, fresh air and the love of my family for emotional happiness and good food, a warm room and a good book/TV program to keep that smile on my face), so does my continual analysis of situations before applying myself to them make me unhappy? I never thought so. Seeing the glass half empty or half full is surely not a measure of happiness. Can’t a person be pessimistic and happy? 

If you take the dictionary meaning of what a pessimist is, you’ll probably not agree with my views. According to, a pessimist is a person who expects the worst and pessimism is a tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view. Wow! Sounds bleak! But what if you work back from this? Continue reading

Short Story 16: Projection

[Another writing group product – hence the weird “Projection” title. I couldn’t think of an alternative title for it but I bet someone else can.]



The couple stared at the painting in silence, mesmerised by the effect the brush strokes had on their senses. The image was superior to anything they had ever seen. Neither of them were connoisseurs of art and yet they could tell that this was something to be treasured. Before they left the gallery, Angie put in an offer for the painting. She had never purchased any artwork other than prints but this was different. She had to have it, or at least try to get it.

The painting arrived at its new home on a rainy Saturday afternoon in November. She already knew exactly where she intended to display it, she had spent the last few days mulling over the decision. But when she hung it up in the chosen location in her living room, it didn’t feel quite right. It looked exposed and she knew straightaway that it was not intended to be shared in that way. It finally found its resting place on her bedroom wall, across from her bed so that she could contemplate its beauty whenever she lay awake. She knew she would still have to share it because Jeremy often spent the night at hers. Apart from locking it away in her closet, she didn’t think she had much choice but to leave it there.

As the weeks went by she realised that not much else could compare to the sense of satisfaction she received from simply observing the painting. Everything paled in comparison to the way her heart fluttered when she noticed a new stroke of red cleverly hidden underneath a more dominant yellow. Continue reading